On the barrier island of Sapelo, two brothers, JerMarkest and Johnathan, are growing up in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee people. Their greatest joy is exploring the island like their adoptive mother, Cornelia Walker Bailey, did as a child.
As Sapelo's storyteller and elder matriarch, she works to preserve what remains of this unique community established by her ancestors. Reflecting on the complicated splendor of her youth, Cornelia strives to shepherd her young sons through theirs.
At the dawn of adolescence, the brothers inherit her hope, but begin to clash with each other and the wider world.